Masterworks of landscape bejewel Seeing Nature exhibit

Carve out a date on your calendar for Portland Art Museum’s exhibit Seeing Nature: Landscape Masterworks from the Paul G. Allen Family Collection, on display now through Jan. 10, 2016. The collection of landscape masterpieces, which spans five centuries, offers the rare occasion to experience an eclectic feast of images no other medium can replicate. Be sure to allot an extended period of time; you’ll want to linger in the orbit of these 39 paintings.

The exhibit constitutes a share of the personal collection of Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen. The Allen family generously loaned the pieces to the viewing public via the curation of PAM through early next year. The collection will then undergo a national circuit tour and come full circle to the Seattle Art Museum in early 2017.

“These masterpieces have never before been on display together,” said Brian Ferriso, the Marilyn H. and Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr. director of the Portland Art Museum. “Paul Allen is one of the Northwest’s most significant art collectors and philanthropists, and his willingness to share his landscape masterpieces with our visitors offers an unprecedented chance to be inspired by works of art.”

Every piece in the collection is noteworthy, and every artist represented conceives an inimitable style. The display includes work from Georgia O’Keeffe, David Hockney and Gerhard Richter, to name a few.

Professor Rita Robillard of Portland State’s School of Art & Design was impressed with the exhibit and even surprised by some of the rare paintings.

“This colorful exhibition of landscape paintings, that Portland has the honor of being the first venue for, includes four hundred years of secular art,” Robillard said. “There are many surprises like the Gustav Klimt painting of a birch forest. It is unlike any other work I have seen by him.”

Additional favorites include Impressionist works from French master Claude Monet and architectural wonders from Italian artist Canaletto.

“Many of the paintings focus on Venice, still a pilgrimage site for artists—a gateway to the Middle East and depictions of Orientalism. There is a large, dark and mysterious painting by an artist I had never heard about, Henri Le Sidaner, The Serenade, 1907, showing Venice at night with beautiful lanterns reflecting in the waters of the Venice Lagoon,” Robillard said.

Also notable is a series of paintings dedicated to each of the five senses, by 17th-century Dutch master Brueghel the Younger. The works, commanding a solo act on one of the three showrooms’ walls, is bound to generate discussion.

“Like much contemporary art, this exhibition presents many fascinating puzzles and historical points of view. Paintings bring life to the history of facts and culture,” Robillard said. “There are several views of the Grand Canyon, including Thomas Moran’s beautiful work that was sponsored by the Santa Fe Railroad—a visual representation of the concept of Manifest Destiny seeking to bring settlers west.”

PSU students can purchase annual student pass with PAM for only $20, which grants full access to all exhibits at any time. With a location a mere stone’s throw from campus, and the option of $5 Fridays after 5 p.m., Seeing Nature is a must-see.